Supacell is the Black British TV show that’s never been done before”

Netflix’s new series stars 21-year-old Josh Tedeku as a small-time gangster who gains the power of invisibility. It's essentially Black Britain’s answer to E4’s late-noughties hit Misfits, asking the age-old comic book question: what if normal people acquired superpowers?

Josh Tedeku was determined to be in Supacell. Almost as soon as he saw Rapman, the show’s creator, writer and lead director, announce it had been commissioned for Netflix in 2021, he was on his agent’s case. I was like, Please keep an eye on this for me, I want to be in the room when there’s auditions,’” he says. Obviously, it’s Rapman.” (Aka the cult rapper and mind behind 2019’s Blue Story.) It’s a great opportunity.”

A year passed, no news – until he heard that his mate had bagged himself an audition. Josh called his agent again: Yo, sneak me an audition, get me the room, please. I’d really love to do this.” Long story short, his persistence won out. Josh eventually got that audition, then a phone call two days later, this time from Rapman himself, personally delivering the news that he’d got a part on the show. It was such a mad moment.”

Released this Friday, Supacell is essentially Black Britain’s answer to E4’s late-noughties hit Misfits, asking the age-old comic book question: what if normal people randomly acquired superpowers? There are a few key differences in the plot, though, namely the fact that only Black Londoners appear to have acquired these new powers and, unlike the group of delinquents in Misfits, they don’t initially know each other.

There’s Michael (Tosin Cole), a delivery driver whose proposal to his girlfriend is interrupted by a sudden ability to teleport to the future; Sabrina (Nadine Mills), a nurse who discovers her telekinetic powers when confronting her cheating boyfriend; Andre (Eric Kofi Abrefa), a struggling call centre worker who probably wishes he’d acquired a more financially lucrative power than super strength; Rodney (Calvin Demba), a plucky weed dealer who finds his new running skills (we’re talking faster than the speed of light) particularly helpful for keeping his clients happy.

And lastly, there’s Tazer (that’s Josh), a small-time gang leader who sees his new invisibility power as a doorway to becoming a big-time gang leader. In a show that’s already packed with real world grit, Josh’s role is perhaps the darkest, a brooding yet complex character who’s been sucked into crime in the absence of his mum as a presence to lean on and guide him.

I was really blessed to have got that. I was over the moon,” says Josh, remembering that call with Rapman. The stature of the story for our culture was so mad. It’s something that’s never been done before, so everybody wanted to do it.”

Sure enough, Supacell is already raking in glowing reviews, both from critics (“Move over Marvel,” says The Standard) to celebs (“This storytelling is crazy,” according to Jay‑Z). And having also starred in BBC’s Boarders earlier this year, another show centering Black British stories that’s just been renewed for a second series, Josh is well on his way to becoming the nation’s next primetime star. But first, he’s off on holiday…

You’ve had some big wins this year, Josh. First Boarders, now Supacell… How are you celebrating all of your success?

I mean, I probably don’t celebrate in the way a lot of people do, like going out and stuff. But as soon as I wrapped Boarders [in 2023], I went on holiday, and I’ve been on eight or nine holidays since.

Where’ve you been?

Like two days before I actually go, I just be like, why don’t I go there? Or somebody will hit me up and say, Do you wanna go here?” I’ve been trying to be more spontaneous and just live life. I went to Lisbon with two of my Boarders cast mates as soon as we wrapped. I went to Brussels, Sardinia, Barcelona, Sweden, Chicago, New York, Egypt. And Lille… but that was for Boarders press, so it doesn’t really count.

Impressive globetrotting. We’d better talk about Supacell: what was it like working on that set, with all the special effects and stunts?

I’m a sci-fi fan, so I’ve always wanted to do something down that lane. Seeing the green screen and getting pulled back on wires and stuff was crazy. I’ve done sci-fi before [in 2022 TV series Moonhaven], but, like, this was proper. And then seeing all the VFX after, it was magic. My inner child was awakened.

Was there much stunt training involved?

Yeah, because I had a fight scene. Me and Andre Dwayne, who plays one of the other characters, were in fight training for about three weeks before, just going at it, going at it, going at it. And I realised how unfit I was because I was sweating so hard. Then we had one week of bike BMX camp, because I could barely ride a bike. Now I’m a little bit better. I still don’t know if I’d ride a bike around London, but if I had to I could.

Supacell was like: this is the set where Black people can finally chill, do their work and not stress”

You play Tazer, who has a bit of a dark streak running through him. How did you get into that headspace for filming?

You know, I’ve been asking myself the same question! I was really trying to see where Tazer was coming from, his perspective. What were his motives? What made him like this? Recently, I was watching this interview by Sterling K. Brown, one of my favourite actors, and he said that he feels like, to be a good [actor], you have to know that other side of you, the dark parts of you, and that enables you to play dark characters. Because acting, at some points, is [about] bringing yourself to the character, picking little bits of you and applying it to the big picture.

So you have to have a knowledge of yourself and I realised that is kind of what I was doing. All those moments in life where I had anger that I never expressed, or the dark parts that you hid, I was just trying to bring that to the surface. But it was right to get the balance of dark and love, because Tazer, and the story really, is all about love. The reason he does these dark things is because somebody he loves might be affected.

You were also in Boarders earlier this year, which is a big difference in tone but also another great Black British project. How did that experience compare?

That was the first young cast I’ve ever worked with, that were all around my age. They’re really close to me, like family, so we’d be frolicking around Bristol [where it was shot] when we would have a day off, so it was very different to Supacell. Everybody was a vibe on both sets, but playing a group of friends going to school is naturally just going to make it a bit more fun.

One thing I will say [about Supacell] is that it felt so comfortable – they really looked after us and cared in terms of having a load of Black people behind and in front of the camera. You didn’t have to feel like you had to worry about anything like hair and makeup, because Rapman wouldn’t have let it happen. He really protected us on that set. It was like: this is the set where Black people can finally chill, do their work and not stress. That was one beautiful thing that I loved about the whole process.

OK, quickfire round: who’s the most famous person you’ve met so far?

[A pause] I’m trying to be quickfire but my mind is blank! I didn’t even meet him, but I saw Lenny Henry across the room at the BAFTA Television Craft Awards which I got to present at. Me and mum used to love him when I was younger.

How did you spend your first acting paycheck?

I bought a new iPhone straightaway. I was still on an iPhone 6 in like 2022, so that’s the first thing I did.

What were you like in school?

That was a journey, man. At first I was really extroverted and friends with everyone, and then towards the end of school, I kind of fell silent and became this super introverted person. I don’t know, that’s a deep one. We’re gonna need some time for that. It was interesting, because I went to a kind of similar school to the one in Boarders – not private or boarding, but just majority white. I don’t think anybody would want to watch that movie, it would be quite… Yeah.

Whose phone number would you most like to have?

Thierry Henry, because I’m an Arsenal fan and he’s one of my favourite people of all time. That would be amazing. I’d ask him for advice and stuff. And then I’d also pester him to have one of his hat-trick balls as a little souvenir.

And lastly, which superpower would you most like to have in real life?

I’m gonna go easy: teleportation. Cause I’m leaving!

Supacell premieres on Netflix tomorrow, would you believe

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